Possible neurobiological mechanisms of fatigue during prolonged exercise in a warm environment
Capacity to perform prolonged exercise is reduced in high ambient temperatures, but this premature fatigue is not adequately explained by peripheral mechanisms. The aim of this thesis was to examine some possible underlying mechanisms of central fatigue operating during prolonged exercise in a warm environment. The first series of experiments investigated the effect of nutritional manipulation of central serotonergic activity through alterations to the plasma concentration ratio of free-tryptophan to branched-chain amino acids (f-TRP:BCAA). In contrast to previous reports, acute BCAA supplementation failed to alter perceived exertion and delay the onset of fatigue (Chapter 3). This response was similar when exercise was preceded by an exercise and diet regimen designed to reduce glycogen availability (Chapter 4). The ingestion of meals containing added carbohydrate and fat did not alter f-TRP:BCAA at rest (Chapter 5). Acute dopaminergic / noradrenergic reuptake inhibition with bupropion increased exercise perfonnance by 9 % in warm conditions (30C), but this effect was not apparent at 18C (Chapter 6). This response was accompanied by attainment of a higher core temperature and heart rate towards the end of the bupropion trial in the heat despite no detectable difference in perceived exertion and thermal stress. These data suggested that maintenance of catecholaminergic activity may dampen inhibitory signals from the CNS due to the attainment of a high core temperature, allowing power output to be maintained. The blood-brain barrier (BBB) regulates the exchange of substances between the cerebral interstitial fluid and the blood to maintain a stable environment for the CNS. If the BBB is compromised this may adversely influence nonnal brain function. Serum S1OOb, a proposed peripheral marker of BBB penneability, was increased following exercise in a warm environment (Chapter 7). These data indicate that exposure to combined exercise and heat stress may result in a loss of BBB integrity.